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Teal Pumpkin Project Printable

Halloween will be here in a few weeks, and for most kids, that means one thing – candy. Our neighborhood is great for trick-or-treating and our kids typically end up with a pretty huge haul (which Brian and I may or may not “help” with eating).

For kids with food allergies, though, Halloween can be stressful (also – did you know 1 in 13 kids has a food allergy?). It involves either sorting through candy carefully to remove offending pieces, or avoiding trick-or-treating entirely.

Our nephew is allergic to dairy, and our good friends’ daughter is allergic to gluten.  Thankfully, neither of these are life-threatening, but our 7 year old son has a boy in his class with a severe peanut allergy. Their teacher talks about their classroom being a peanut-free zone, but last week someone ate peanut butter near him during lunch – he ended up having to go to the hospital. All three of these kids will have to be careful with what they consume on Halloween – which is why the Teal Pumpkin Project is so great.

FARE (Food Allergy Research & Education) began this initiative to help make sure all children will come home on Halloween night with something they can enjoy. It just takes one simple act: offering non-food treats, such as glow sticks & bracelets, stickers, fun pencils, necklaces, or small toys as an alternative to candy.

If you’re participating, the idea is to paint a pumpkin teal as a signal to trick-or-treaters. Our local grocery store has a big display with teal paint ready for purchase:

tealpumpkinproject

I’ve created a free printable sign you can put up on your front door to let people know you’ve got non-food treats available – it’s an easy way to make Halloween a great night for all kids!

Just click here or the image below to start your free download. FARE has some other options for free signs, too!

teal-pumpkin-project

Have a happy – and safe – Halloween, everyone!

DIY Summer Reading Program with Free Printable

When I was a child I participated in my library’s summer reading program. I read 100 books one summer, earning a trophy (which I still have today – see below) and a $50 savings account at the local bank. I remember loving that particular summer, going to the library as often as possible and reading as late as my parents would let me each night.

My "100 Books" trophy from my childhood can be seen in the white shelf over on the left of this photo.

My “100 Books” trophy from my childhood can be seen in the white shelf in this photo.

Because of my fond memories – and our desire to continually instill a love of reading in our kids – we decided to go to our local library and check out their summer reading program. They have a lot of activities kids can participate in at various branches around town, and each week children can come in to pick up a reading prize. I really appreciate how great our libraries are, but the program wasn’t exactly what I had in mind. Kids receive prizes just for coming in each week. So you don’t misunderstand – I think it’s great to have incentive to go to the library on a weekly basis, and our kids love going in and seeing what prize they’ll get that week. I wanted a program for the kids that was more similar to mine, where there are prizes & privileges available based upon how much they’re reading.

I considered several factors when setting up our program. Our boys are 7 & nearly 9, and are reading at different levels. J, our oldest, reads very quickly – but he also reads thicker books. C is reading thinner books that inherently take less time than those J reads.

To keep things fair, I decided to create a system in which 20 minutes of reading earns 1 book buck. The book bucks are a currency the kids can spend on the prizes Brian and I have chosen for them to pick from.

I made book bucks to print out, and labeled a baggie for each of my kids to keep their “money” in. Click here – or on the image below – to download a free PDF for printing your own book bucks!

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Keep Your Family Connected With This Simple {&Free!} Tool!

Each year I choose a word that’s a theme for my year. After the insanely busy end of 2015, it was crystal clear that my word for 2016 would be connect. My kids are growing up way too quickly, and it’s crucial to me that we connect as a family. We do this at family dinners most nights of the week, focusing on each other and each sharing the best and worst parts of our day (if you haven’t tried this, I highly recommend it – it’s a great way to learn about the highs and lows of your child’s – or spouse’s – day, and our kids typically can’t wait for their turn to share)!

We get a lot of time together as our group of five, and I love it. Game nights, movie nights, bike rides around the neighborhood – or even just all doing separate things in the same room – we spend a lot of quality time as a family.

One-on-one time, however, can be harder to come by. I first thought about this as each of my children ended up grocery shopping with me on various weekends. It was a rare chance to have extended time with just one of our three kids, and I loved the opportunity for conversation with each of them (and oh my, how topics differ from child to child!).

An idea was born from these shopping trips, and I decided I’d implement it in 2016 as a resolution of sorts – a way to have intentional time with each child. I created a chart that allows for purposeful time for my husband and I with each of our children throughout the year. In January, I get a date night with our oldest; my husband gets one with our middle son, and our daughter gets to choose a family activity for us to enjoy together. In February, the names rotate. I get a date night with our daughter, my oldest son is paired with my husband, and our middle son gets to pick the family activity. Each child has a special role for the month, and each parent gets one-on-one time with a child.

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Free Teacher Christmas Gift Printables

It’s that time of year again. Thanksgiving has passed and now the Christmas season is here. You might be like one of my friends, who’s virtually done with her Christmas shopping before December even arrives. Or you might be like me, who has barely started thinking about it.

If you’re in the latter group, I’ve got something that’ll help you knock one recipient off your list – this printable is a great gift for teachers! Have your child color it and then put it in a frame. If you want to add more customization to it, you can get an unfinished wood frame at Michael’s and let your child decorate the frame, too.

ChristmasTeacherPrintable-Preview

Click here to download the free printable!

If you’d like something to go along with the printable, a perfect companion gift would be a cute jar of “snow corn.” It’s SO easy to make, and I’ve even created a snow corn label for you to download and put on your container!

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Free Fourth of July Printable

I love to decorate for all the various holidays, and with Fourth of July right around the corner that means a lot of red, white, & blue.

One of my favorite low-cost methods of decorating is by displaying framed printables. Just buy some inexpensive frames (it’s especially fun to go thrifting or antiquing to find unique options) and paint them to fit with your aesthetic; then it’s so easy to swap out art as the various holidays roll around!

I love the idea of layering frames with different printables along a mantle or tabletop – you can easily achieve pops of color, and you can find all sorts of great quotes on Pinterest. Of course, since I’m a graphic designer I like to create my own printables so I can achieve the look – and convey the thoughts – that really fit our family.

I created a new Fourth of July printable recently and I’m sharing it with you today so you can add it to your patriotic decor. Just click here to start your free PDF download. This is sized for an 8×10 frame, but you can print it smaller for 5×7 if you prefer.

Enjoy, and Happy 4th!

Fourth-of-July-Printable_Vertical

Father’s Day {+ Free Printable}

I’m really blessed to be married to a guy who is a great dad, and with Father’s Day around the corner I started thinking a little bit more about my husband.

Maybe you’ve experienced something similar:

You married a man who you knew you loved, but then – then – you had children. And suddenly, he wasn’t the man you married.

He was so much more.

He gently cradled your tiny babies and took on diaper changes like a champ.

He wiped tears and put band-aids on boo-boos (even when he really didn’t think one was needed).

He made silly faces and did silly voices just to make your children’s faces light up.

He got down on the floor with your children and played. And read. And made memories.

He taught your children about respect. About saying “ma’am” and “sir.” About how you treat women. And men. And everyone.

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Thank a Teacher & Share a Coke!

Note: This shop has been compensated by Collective Bias, Inc. and its advertiser. All opinions are mine alone. #ShareSmiles #CollectiveBias

Can you believe the school year is almost over? It feels like just yesterday we were sending the boys off for their first day in new classes, and now we’re down to just weeks before the summer begins.

As many parents do, I’m sure, I’m getting a little sentimental as summer approaches. We have really loved the boys’ teachers this year and will miss having them! I don’t think I could ever do enough to thank them for all they’ve done for my children – I mean, they’re caring for these cute kiddos, and teaching them so much!

J_C_2015

I did want to do a little something to show appreciation as the school year wraps up. I know both teachers love Coke (thanks to sending them a “favorites” survey at the beginning of the school year – which I highly recommend) so I thought it’d be fun to make them a Coke-themed gift basket complete with a theme-appropriate gift tag (which I’ll be sharing with you in just a bit)!

It’s perfect timing, too, because all the Share a Coke bottles and cans are out right now, which makes it even more fun. I went to our Brookshires to go hunt for the perfect bottles.

Brookshires_Front

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Cleaning Calendar – Free Printable!

I saw a quote going around recently on Facebook that said, “I don’t want to brag, but I’m pretty mediocre at housekeeping.” It resonated so much with me that I shared it on the Frugal Novice page.

Brian and I both work full time, and we’ve got three fairly young children. We just don’t want to – and frankly, aren’t willing to – spend our whole weekends cleaning, when we could be spending quality time with the kids.

Three years ago I had the idea to create a printable monthly cleaning calendar to help myself break housework up into small, manageable pieces. It just requires a little effort each day, and it means that we’re still able to spend the most time on our priorities – namely, our family time. It’s also a way to make sure you don’t overlook something (not that I’ve ever gone months without dusting the fan blades… not me!).

Many of you probably remember my free monthly calendars; I got many emails requesting updates, and I’m thrilled to know they were helpful to others! I got behind in creating a new one each month, though, and so the idea for a perpetual cleaning calendar was born.

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Free Printable For Teacher Appreciation Week!

Teacher Appreciation Week is right around the corner – I’m room mom for both my boys’ classes, so I’ve been getting emails from the PTO reminding me that it’s approaching. We love their teachers and I am so glad for an opportunity to thank them for all their hard work!

I’ll share some gift ideas that I’ll be doing for our kids’ teachers below, but first let’s talk about this fun printable. I think it’s great to have the kids give their teachers something especially from them, so I came up with this adorable free printable you can have your child customize for their teacher. You could even print one out for each student and then bind them into a little book for their teacher to keep. Update, February 2017 – I received a request from a reader to share a Spanish-language version, which is a great idea! You’ll find both English and Spanish versions below.

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Free Easter Basket Craft – Printable Download!

Easter is right around the corner, and I’m sharing a fun craft for you – an Easter Treat Basket. This is a great project to do one-on-one at home, but you could also do this at a school party and then let children fill their baskets with treats. Fun and easy!

Once you’ve printed your page for the Easter basket from the PDF (I’ll link to the file at the end of this post), let your kids color to their hearts’ content. I had fun coloring one for an example – you might want to do this project  yourself, too! One note – make sure you fill out the “to” and “from” part now, because this will be on the bottom of the basket once it’s complete.

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Earth Day Activity & Free Printable – Earth Day Superhero!

Earth Day is a great opportunity to talk with your children about being good stewards of the Earth – and to help them think about ways they can make a difference! To make it easy to track ideas, here’s a fun Earth Day printable for you to do with your children – or if you’re a teacher, this would be great to do with your class!

I know most kids love superheroes, so I decided to make something that will let them BE superheroes for the day.

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